By Jessica Bernstein-Wax Marin Independent Journal Posted: 09/23/2011 11:09:37 AM PDT Updated: 09/23/2011 11:09:38 AM PDT
Two Marin moms are still reeling after they saved a San Francisco man's life last weekend using CPR techniques they learned as children. On Sunday afternoon, San Rafael resident Jennifer Ani and San Anselmo resident Michal "Miki" Goralsky were at a party in Ross for first-grade students at the Brandeis Hillel Day School when parent Mike Ryan collapsed and turned purple.
"We were all outside, and it was time for the piñata and all the kids were in line," Ani said. "I was about 10 feet from him and his eyes rolled back in his head and his knees buckled and he fell to the ground."
After a few moments of chaos, Goralsky began administering compressions to Ryan's chest and Ani performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. The older brother of one of the first-graders whisked all of the small children to another part of the property.
Paramedics arrived several minutes later and took Ryan to Marin General Hospital, where doctors told him he had suffered a heart attack and had been clinically dead for a short time.
Ryan, a 51-year-old diabetic who had no previous problems with his heart, underwent quadruple bypass surgery Thursday morning and is doing well, said his wife, Hagit Glickman.
"CPR not only saved his life but brought him back to life ... with no damage from the heart attack due to how quickly the women acted and how well they did what they did," Glickman said.
Dr. Brian Strunk, chief of cardiology at Marin General, said Ryan had blockages in all three of his arteries and would have died or ended up in a vegetative state without CPR.
Strunk emphasized the need for lay people to take CPR classes, saying every minute after a heart attack is critical and emergency personnel rarely get to the patient immediately.
"Without those two ladies doing the CPR, he would have been brain dead," Strunk said. "As it is, his head is completely intact, and they saved his heart enough."
With surgery, Ryan will be able to lead a normal life, he added.
Ryan told the Independent Journal on Wednesday that he remembered falling and then returning to consciousness from a strange, dream-like state.
"They're wonder women that saved my life," said Ryan, chairman of the Executive Impact Group, which advises companies on business strategy and development.
The experience made such a profound impression on Ani, Goralsky and other Brandeis parents that a group of first-grade families are planning to take a CPR class together.
"The lesson here for me is that you cannot wait and think that somebody else will do it -- you need to act," Goralsky said.
A recent American Red Cross survey found that one in four people have been in a situation in which someone required CPR, said Cynthia Shaw, a spokeswoman for the Red Cross' Bay Area chapter.
"You never know when you'll need to respond to an emergency," Shaw said. "You never know when you're going to see somebody in front of you collapse with a heart attack."
With proper training, everyday people have the power to stabilize a patient while waiting for emergency personnel to arrive, potentially saving a life, she said.
Ani and Goralsky didn't know Ryan and Glickman before the birthday party, but now all four parents say they're eager to spend time together. "I expect to live until at least 80 or 100, and we'll keep Jennifer and Miki in our lives,"
Ryan said. "My birthday's now Sept. 18 instead of Jan. 19. It's a whole new life."